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Undercover officers buy,sell drugs as part of crackdown
date: 10-February-2005
editorial comment editorial comment
Interesting. We are all certain that they don't keep any of the money or snort a few lines here and there. Nice job if you can get it.

Charleston police are stepping up efforts to fight the wave of crime that has plagued the West Side and East End by having undercover officers work both sides of the drug trade in sting operations.

As a different strategy, undercover officers are not only buying drugs, they also are selling them in an effort to stop people from streaming into the city in hopes of a quick fix.

A sting operation using both measures started about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and ran until midnight, Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said. A total of eight arrests were made.

Because it's possible some of the cases might result in federal charges, Webster was unable to provide names, but he said officers made arrests on the West Side and the East End.

A man was arrested on the corner of Ruffner Avenue and Washington Street East and charged with possession of a controlled substance, and another woman was picked up near there on an outstanding meth lab warrant, Webster said.

On the West Side, a man was arrested and charged with possession of crack cocaine at the corner of Washington Street West and Greendale Drive.

Two crack-related arrests also were made on Second Avenue and another was made on Patrick Street.

Webster said officers were making both buys and sells. He said the sells, or reversals, were important because they put users on notice.

"That creates the perception that when you come into the city to buy these drugs, you might be buying them from a cop," he said.

Three arrests were made on the East End, and five were made the West Side, but not all the arrests were drug related.

A woman was arrested and charged with soliciting for prostitution on the 1300 block of Washington Street East and another was cited for an open container violation in front of George's Bar on Washington Street West.

Officers from the Metro Drug Unit, and the city's bike patrol and special enforcement units assisted in Wednesday's sting.

"You need a lot of manpower for this type of thing," Webster said.

Because it was cold and rainy Wednesday evening, the chief said he was somewhat surprised by the number of people out and the amount of arrests.

This sting comes on the heels of a similar operation last Thursday in which two people were arrested on drug charges.

However, the officers on patrol that evening noted that not many people were out.
"In the report, he just keeps writing about how desolate it was," Webster said.

Webster said the main goal of the operations like this is to keep drug dealers and drug buyers guessing.

"We want to be consistent but not predictable," he said.

Mayor Danny Jones said today the department would keep pressuring troubled areas of the city.

"This is just the beginning," Jones said. "We're not letting up."

He said police would continue to up their patrols and officers will "swarm" crime-ridden area of the city.

"The word is going out to these bad guys," he said.

Contact writer George Gannon at 348-4843.

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